After a tough 2010 season, the Patriot men's and women's tennis teams experienced their fair share of highs and lows, with the men finishing with a record of 4-16, and 5-11 on the women's side. In Mid-South Conference (MSC) play, the men finished 0-3, with the women at 1-2. Head Patriot Tennis Coach Chin Tan expresses high expectations for both teams as they are "experiencing a surge in talent level."
The Patriot ladies finished the 2009-2010 season with a 1-2 conference record, placing them third in the MSC. Losing only one player to graduation, who was also a recipient of the MSC's Honorable Mention honor, Haley Farris (Corbin, KY); the team shows a lot of promise, with the majority of last year's contenders back for another year.
Returning members Kelcey Bauer (Fairfield, OH), Alissa Ellis (Stanford, KY), Donna Strong (Dwarf, KY), Kaitlin Smith (Erlanger, KY), and Shelby Muff (Union, KY) bring a lot of experience and leadership to share with the newcomers to the team. Freshman Neesha Thirumalaichelvam (Selangor, Malaysia), will spearhead the team at #1 alongside Lindsay Collette (London, KY), Kayla Kennedy (Oliver Springs, TN), and Brittany Wills (Whitesburg, KY) providing "a lot of depth that the team has never had," Tan comments. Kaitlyn Daughtery (Clinton, TN), Bailey Mays (Clinton, TN), and Samantha Taylor (Owensboro, KY) are also doing a good job of improving. "Their presence will bode well for our future," Tan adds.
The Patriot men return everyone but standout Higor Silva (Londrina, Brazil) from the 2009-2010 team. Returning members for the Patriots include Oscar Pantoja (Zipaquira, Colombia), Steffan Crowe (Carlisle, OH), Andrew Hill (Carlisle, OH), and Jerrid Neeley (Manchester, KY).
"These players will be counted on with their experiences to lead the team," Tan states. Newcomers Guillermo Alvarez (Bogota, Colombia), Danilo Garcia (Quito, Ecuador), and David Jaramillo (Armenia, Colombia) have been able to strengthen the top part of the lineup. In addition, Coty Marcum (Paintsville, KY), Ryan Kelly (Williamsburg, KY), Tommy Fox (Richmond, KY), Iilern Low (Selangor, Malaysia), and Mason Smith (London, KY) are doing a good job improving and Tan expects them to fill in nicely into the lineup.
The Patriots will face conference rivals Lindsey Wilson College, Georgetown College, and Campbellsville University throughout the season. Other programs such as Carson-Newman College, Centre College, Cumberland University, Union College, Eastern Kentucky University, and division one powerhouse University of Kentucky, among others, will challenge the Patriots and award them with the experiences necessary to create a strong winning team.
2011 is a year of high hopes for the Patriot tennis teams. With a tough returning roster, along with a strong, competitive freshman class, it looks like a successful season is in the works.